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Walton County: Preacher charged with sexually exploiting a child

POSTED: April 5, 2008 5:00 a.m.

A Habersham preacher is now in custody in Walton County following an arrest on charges of sexual exploitation of a child.

Robert Leonard Coats, 51, has been charged with nine counts of sexual exploitation of a child after Coats allegedly had nine sexually explicit conversations with an officer with the Loganville Police Department who Coats believed was a 14-year-old girl.

Coats initiated the conversations with someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl in an online chat room and became "very explicit in sexual connotation with her," said Habersham County Sheriff DeRay Fincher.

"(The undercover officer) clearly identified herself as a 14-year-old female before (Coats) became sexually explicit," Fincher said.

Coats was arrested Thursday at Mount Bethel Church where he served as pastor, and police searched his office and his home, which was next to the church on Talmadge Drive, Fincher said.

Computers from both Coats’ residence and his church office were taken to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab for further investigation, Fincher said.


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